Aquilegia canadensis, Eastern Red Columbine

Macro photo of a single Columbine flower blooming in the backyard at Garden #3 in Park Slope.
Photo taken: May 8, 2004

Aquilegia canadensis, Eastern Red Columbine

One of my favorite native plants and wildflowers. It looks so delicate, yet it blooms early spring, when temperatures are still cool.

Tips for growing, based on my experience growing Columbine in several gardens over many years:

  • Columbine likes to grow among rocks. In the garden, bricks, stepping stones, and paths are good substitutes.
  • Blooms early-mid spring, before trees have fully leafed out. If you keep the seedheads pinched back, you can keep it blooming for two months.
  • Larger plants don't transplant well. Columbine has a fleshy root which is easily damaged in transplanting. It tends to not form a root ball, which makes it difficult to avoid damage and get the plant re-established in its new location.
  • Columbine is not a long-lived plant. Five years is a long time for a single plant. However, you can easily get more plants than you need through seed propagation.
  • Where you want Columbine to grow, plant one plant and let it go to seed. You can also collect seed from your plant and scatter it where you want more. Seed must winter over to germinate. It may take a year or two for new plants to establish themselves before they bloom.
  • Leaf-miner can be a problem; I find it's less of a problem with the species than with hybrids. The miners tunnel inside the leaves, beween the upper and lower surfaces, as larvae. They create distinctive widening, wandering trails; hold a leaf up to a light and you can actually watch the larvae chewing away inside the leaf. When they've had their fill, they cut a hole through the underside of the leaf, pupate, and drop into the soil. They emerge as flying adults to mate and lay eggs in new leaves. Dispose of affected leaves in the trash; don't compost leaves or affected plants or soil unless you know your compost gets hot enough for sterilization.



NYFA Atlas: Plant ID 2583
USDA PLANTS Profile: Symbol AQCA

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